theSun Says - Parliament must first have integrity
The Sun, February 7 - There is in place a national integrity plan with the purpose of improving integrity of the various institutions of the country, the government - central, state and local - and its servants, the private sector and its servants and the various components and sectors of society and their most important unit, the family.
To coordinate the various efforts of improving integrity is the Integrity Institute of Malaysia. The plan was launched shortly after the last general election and two of its priorities for its first "five-year plan" known as Target 2008 are the reduction of corruption, malpractices and abuse of power and the enhancement of efficiency of the public delivery system and the overcoming of bureaucratic red tape.
It seemed such a good idea then. However, almost three years have passed and the public contention is that while most people are aware of the government's ambition to improve integrity they see little indication of progress made in efforts to reduce corruption, abuse of power, bureaucratic red tape and improving the public delivery system. Thus, while integrity may be the buzzword, few are exultant about it and a number who showed early faith are becoming quite cynical about it. No doubt three years is too short a period, but then 2008 is less than a year away, and the public impatience with government inefficiency is mounting.
The various national integrity congresses had little progress to report. And the Fourth National Congress on Integrity on Saturday not only deplored the lack of progress but also warned that "we'll go on talking about it" till the cows come home if accountability is lacking in the various branches of government. For that to happen, it said Parliament, the highest legislative body in the country, must have integrity.
The congress said while that is an objective of Target 2008, the opposite is happening: "Parliament is just like a government department." It said the trend must be reversed and Parliament must be truly independent and become a legislature with integrity again. It must be acknowledged by all that Parliament, as was desired by the nation's founders, is where everything emanates and to which every action of the executive is accountable to.
With Parliament's integrity restored, it could "become a powerful basis for change in the country." Only then could the other objectives of Target 2008 and other objectives of subsequent "five year" plans be achieved. Sun2Surf